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Weaveworld

Weaveworld - Clive Barker Weaveworld is one of the very few books that I can claim to enjoy from the first page to the last, all 700+ pages of it. Even the introduction is great, normally I skim through lengthy intros to get to the story, but Clive Barker puts his heart and soul into this one, including this beautiful passage about the genre fiction:

“I have been, I think, altogether disparaging about the ‘escapist’ elements of the genre, emphasizing its powers to address social, moral and even philosophical issues at the expense of celebrating its dreamier virtues. I took this position out of a genuine desire to defend a fictional form I love from accusations of triviality and triteness, but my zeal led me astray. Yes, fantastic fiction can be intricately woven into the texture of our daily lives, addressing important issues in fabulist form. But it also serves to release us for a time from the definitions that confine our daily selves; to unplug us from a world that wounds and disappoints us, allowing us to venture into places of magic and transformation.”

As a lifelong devotee of SF/F/H fiction, I sometimes have the same doubts about preferring this type of fiction above all others but the above passage really puts it in perspective for me.

Weaveworld is about another dimension called “The Fugue” which has been transformed into a carpet in order to hide from an unstoppable creature called “The Scourge”. The residents of the Fugue are called the “Seerkind”, a race with magical abilities who view mankind with disdain and refer to humans as “cuckoos”. The Fugue in carpet form works a little like suspended animation or dehydrated food in which places, animals and most of the Seerkind are woven in as patterns on the carpet; to be reconstituted by an appointed guardian when the world is safe. The storyline concerns two human protagonists who become involved with the Fugue and the Seerkind and their struggle against powerful enemies who are trying to destroy both.

I first read Weaveworld around fifteen years ago and certain elements and scenes have stuck with me through all these years. It is a dark fantasy with several horrifying scenes — definitely not for the faint of heart — and scenes of surreal beauty. The most memorable element of the book for me is the magical jacket worn by Shadwell, the main human antagonist of the book, the lining of the jacket is able to enslave anyone who look at it by showing their heart's desire and allowing them to delve into it and obtain that very thing.



The central characters are very well written and believable, the antagonists are suitably warped, formidable and devious. In spite of its considerable length Weaveworld still manages to move at a fair clip. Something bizarre is always happening on almost every page and boredom never sets in. There is also more artistry in his prose than you would find in most genre books. The best thing about this book is that it is wonderful escapism, this book can sweep you away from a dull rainy day, or a slow day at the office. If you are a fan of Neil Gaiman’s [b: American Gods|4407|American Gods (American Gods, #1)|Neil Gaiman|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1258417001s/4407.jpg|1970226] this book is likely to be right up your alley, though it is much more horrific, packed to the gills with horrible slimy, sticky, drippy – not to mention horny – monstrosities.

With an average rating of 4.13 Weaveworld is generally very well liked. However, all books have their share of negative reviews and while I respect opinions contrary to my own, I take exception to one review that says this book “is lacking”. The trouble is the reviewer does not say what it is that the book is lacking. Is “lacking” an adjective now? In any case I don’t think it lacks anything and I heartily recommend it.


Cover art for the 25th anniversary edition of Weaveworld by Richard A. Kirk (click on image for larger size).
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Note: I have to admit Clive Barker's books are generally very hard to review, they tend to be densely plotted and the settings and storylines are always so goddam outré. This is particularly true of Weaveworld, I really struggled to write this review. I normally make notes when I read a novel so I will have some material ready to put in my review, but with this book I was so engrossed that I hardly paused to make any notes at all; just a sentence or two.